Self-orienting hydrogel micro-buckets as novel cell carriers

Qian Liu, Meng Zhao, Serhii Mytnyk, Benjamin Klemm, Kai Zhang, Yiming Wang, Dadong Yan, Eduardo Mendes, Jan H. van Esch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
108 Downloads (Pure)


Hydrogel microparticles are important in materials engineering, but their applications remain limited owing to the difficulties associated with their manipulation. Herein, we report the self-orientation of crescent-shaped hydrogel microparticles and elucidate its mechanism. Additionally, the microparticles were used, for the first time, as micro-buckets to carry living cells. In aqueous solution, the microparticles spontaneously rotated to a preferred orientation with the cavity facing up. We developed a geometric model that explains the self-orienting behavior of crescent-shaped particles by minimizing the potential energy of this specific morphology. Finally, we selectively modified the particles’ cavities with RGD peptide and exploited their preferred orientation to load them with living cells. Cells could adhere, proliferate, and be transported and released in vitro. These micro-buckets hold a great potential for applications in smart materials, cell therapy, and biological engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-551
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • cell carriers
  • hydrogels
  • microfluidics
  • self-orientation
  • soft matter

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